Friday, March 22, 2019

How should you deal with hatred towards Muslims?

Prayers during Ramadan in 2013 inside a mosque in Harlem, NY.

Islamophobia and resulting hate crimes towards Muslims in the west received the attention of change-makers and concerned Muslims and non-Muslims worldwide and particularly in the west. 

However, the widespread ignorance and lack of exposure to Islam and Muslims among millions in the United States and less diverse parts of the western world is a much more serious issue that needs to be addressed, discussed and resolved. Ignorance can lead to misconceptions and fear, that may escalate to so much more. 

The rise of anti-Muslim discourse as well as governmental policies against Muslims supported and amplified by the media machine is turning common European and American citizens into haters and attackers.

At the same time, we are also witnessing unprecedented acts and signs of solidarity, love, and support from segments within these very same societies. This is a time of great trial for people's faith and principle but it's also an incredible opportunity for change. 

The following are some ideas and suggestions for you If you are a non-Muslim ally who wants to help change things:

1- Ask about and discuss with Muslim friends and allies the ways they want and need to be supported by a non-Muslim ally. They will surely appreciate it, and it will also give you a better idea for your solidarity efforts and help you build more strategic and long term partnerships.

2- Don't be embarrassed for not knowing enough about Islam. That's very normal considering that there are very few opportunities for many non-Muslims to find good information. 

Most Muslims like to talk to others about the real message of Islam. Discuss with Muslims your own ideas about Islam, what you know and what you don't, and the things you are confused about regarding the religion and the diverse groups of people who are affiliated with it. 

3- Learn about Islam and Muslims from Muslims and Muslim sources. Read literature and watch media produced by Muslims, not just 'others'. 

As a matter of fact, modern days Islamophobes and haters are not the only ones who wronged Muslims and spread misconceptions about Islam. 

Orientalist literature and a great deal of western originated books and literature written by non-Muslims, who willingly or unwillingly didn't carry or deliver the full message, share a huge part of the responsibility for what we are dealing with today. 

So, talk to your Muslim friends or colleagues, ask for suggestions, find reliable and authentic books, articles, videos, and news produced and written by different kinds of Muslims and see what they have to say about themselves and their own religion.  

4- Try to avoid offending religious people if you aren't religious yourself. If you are trying to be an ally or show solidarity, please don't say things like "I hate religion, the idea of religion is stupid, all religions are horrible, but I support you guys worshiping whatever you want". 

These statements come out really harsh and makes religious Muslims uncomfortable and it makes them doubt the sincerity of your motivations for wanting to support their cause. 

Even If you do have strong positions on religion, which we totally understand, try not to offend others when you're trying to be in solidarity with them against hatred. 

You are not expected to believe in Islam or be exactly like those you are trying to support. However, there's a huge difference between mere tolerance, and respect for other people's differences.

Fellow Muslim brothers and sisters:

1- In such hard times, turn back to your Lord and remember that he is the best of planners, the most merciful to his servants, the all hearing, and all seeing. There is only good in all the bad that happens and you'll be rewarded for your patience and perseverance.

2- Don't hide or feel ashamed, don't change your name, or be quite about your Muslim identity rather, embrace it. As I heard a speaker say recently: You have as much right as anybody else to be here, walk with your head up. 

2- Talk to people in your workplace, school, or social circle about your experience with Islam and find opportunities for inter-faith dialogue, positive contribution to your community, and building bridges with people of conscious as well as other oppressed groups. 

3- Recognize that ignorance is as dangerous as hatred.

As I mentioned earlier, there's Islamophobia and hatred, and there's also ignorance and lack of exposure to Islam and Muslims. Have you thought about the number of Americans who never heard about Islam? Or the ones who know that what they hear in the media is not the only story and are looking for someone to ask in person? You can be their first encounter, make sure it is a positive one.

Believe it or not, there are still people who don't even have a position on Islam and Muslims. A lot of these people can become allies or at least knowledgeable about it. 

I can assure you that the results of genuine and friendly human-human interactions are incredibly positive having visited several parts of the US where I happened to be the first and/or only Muslim people met or talked to.

Written in Nov, 2016 in the United States of America by a Muslim immigrant young woman. 

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

My Ramadan experience 1438 Hijri, 2017

This essay on Ramadan was sent as part of a newsletters intended for the volunteers at the organization I currently work at. I thought it would be nice to share it with a wider audience. All pictures attached are taken by me in Cairo and NYC. 

What is Ramadan?

Fasting for the Holy month of Ramadan is an obligation upon every physically and mentally capable Muslim adult. The fast begins before sunrise and ends with sunset. In the United States Muslims will be fasting for about 16 hours everyday during which they don't eat, drink, smoke, or engage in any talks or acts which dissatisfies God. Muslims are also encouraged to do as many good deeds as possible such as feeding the hungry, helping the poor and the oppressed, speaking words of truth. Reading, studying, and trying to implement the Quran is the essence of Ramadan's worship and is highly encouraged. Breaking the fast or Iftar with family, friends, or in a community gathering is a very special occasion for reconnecting and boding with each other. Voluntarily night prayers (Taraweeh or Qiyam) are also held in mosques after the last obligatory prayer of the day. 

This will be my 3rd Ramadan outside of Egypt and my husband's 4th Ramadan in his whole life and that comes with a lot of mixed feelings. 

Ramadan in the Muslim majority world vs. otherwise: 
Ramadan and religious holidays are a central part of the spiritual and cultural fabric of Muslim majority countries. When it is Ramadan or Eid in Egypt for example, the whole country re-arranges its schedule around it, both the public and private atmospheres transform dramatically to welcome and accommodate the Ramadan experience.In Egypt, as in many other countries which are Majority Muslim or have a significant Muslim population, you can smell Ramadan in the air and see it visually through the thousand years old traditional lanterns and decorations which fill the streets, you can see it in the free Iftar tables that are set out in public squares to feed thousands of people who can't afford to break their fast otherwise. 

Thus, it is very challenging when you leave your entire family behind and move to a country where the Muslims are around 1 to 2 percent of the population, where you might be the only one observing the month at work or school, and when you can't tell if it's Ramadan or not until you step into a mosque or remember you can't eat. I know that what a lot of immigrants and refugees miss the most from home during Ramadan is sharing an Iftar meal with their family and extended family members. 

This year I had to work at night and break my fast at work for the first time in my life, my husband was bringing Iftar meals and driving to the office most of Ramadan. It was very different from everything I was familiar with, challenging and yet very rewarding. We shared our Iftar meals with several Muslim ESL students who are enrolled in the evening classes as well as other non-Muslim students and teachers who're interested in joining in and learning. This was an eye-opening opportunity for students and teachers who're coming from a different cultural background. It also gave my fast at work a more meaningful dimension. I wasn't as lonely as I expected to be.

Spirituality vs. culture and folklore:

I've developed a more spiritual perspective to my Islamic practice after having spent my 3rd Ramadan in the United States. I came to love and appreciate how diverse the Muslim population is in the US and in Philadelphia in particular, how I can walk into a mosque where I might be the only Arab, North African, or Egyptian and still be able to join the congregation and feel very welcome. It's an incredible experience to line up in prayers or break bread next to an African American, an Uzbek, a Senegalese and an Arab, all at the same time. In one of the mosques I attend in Philadelphia, I was told that the attendees speak about 31 different languages. It's amazing to me to witness firsthand how spirituality can bring such diverse groups of people together in one place. 

There is a lot more reward and accountability to yourself when you are observing individually, whether fasting in Ramadan or abiding by any other religious practice away from home and community. I came to realize that observing on my own is a test for my spiritual sincerity and strength, something I'd have never had the opportunity to experience If I was back home."

You might ask how can I support my Muslim friends and neighbors in Ramadan. They will certainly appreciate receiving a Ramadan greeting from you. Some might invite you to join them on Iftar. Mosques are always in need of funds to sponsor Iftar for the hundreds of Muslims who come to eat after sunset, some of which are very much in need of these free meals. These are ideas for this year and the years to come. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Video: Americans reflect on "Election Day" 2016

I started video filming again recently for the first time in years. 

These clips were initially for a "Cultural Bridging" effort in an ESL program I started in order to offer real life experiences and different perspectives from the American public to the Arab world and our ESL students. 

On Election Day, November 8, 2016, we asked several Americans on the street their thoughts on the election.

Chris, from New Jersey, was dressed up in a Donald Trump mask and encouraged voters to go out and vote to, as he said, "Stop Trump."

We also talked to several American students about their feelings and thoughts on the US presidential election this year. 

Here's what students and members of Temple University Asian American Association had to say about it.

“People don’t do that enough: to come together and try to be one. I think everyone kind of sees themselves as just by themselves and they don’t really want to socialize with other people. And I think people really underestimate the power of unity. And if a lot of people come together, I feel as though, you guys can make a difference. It’s because a lot of people, they just feel as though they can’t. They feel small, like one little speck of dust in a room. I think people need to realize that you have a lot of capabilities and you have a lot of potential., and you can do so much with that, as long as you choose to.”

A final interview was with 2 young women who are Muslim and attend Temple University as well.

If you wanted to learn more about the English as a Second Language program, check out the Facebook page:

Friday, January 15, 2016

Political Arabic Poetry in English: Selected poems by Ahmed Matar

Some of my recent translations from Arabic to English, for Egypt, Iraq, and Syria and Palestine and Burma.


We’re neither dead, nor alive!

لسنا من الأحياءِ في أوطاننا
و لا من الأموات
نهربُ من هروبنا
مخافةَ اعتقالنا
بتهمةِ الحياة !

We are not considered alive, 
among those who are alive in our home
nor among the dead,
We escape from our escapism,
fearing getting arrested,
with the accusation of being alive!


إن كان البترول رخيصًا
فلماذا نقعد في الظلمة؟
و إذا كان ثمينًا جدًا
فلماذا لا نجد اللقمة؟

If oil is so cheap,
then why are we sitting in the darkness?
and if it is so expensive,
then how come we can’t afford a bite to eat?



- ما تهمتي؟
-تهمتك العروبة
-قلت لكم ما تهمتي؟
-قلنا لك العروبة
-ياناس قولوا غيرها.
أسألكم عن تهمتي..
ليس عن العقوبة!

-What's my accusation?
- Your accusation is Arabism.
- I'm telling you again, what's my accusation?
-We told you it's Arabism.
-Oh, come on people! 
Tell me something else!
I'm asking you about my accusation,
not my penalty!

Poems by famous Iraqi poet: Ahmed Matar

For more translation, visit our project's website:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Keys to understanding the developing situation in Iraq

I wanted to write this post because I'm tired of having to read all these analysis and watch all these self claimed experts on the situation in Iraq once hell broke loose. As always, most of the writers and commentators on the situation are westerners, non-Arabs, non-Iraqis. Most of the writings and analysis are reflective to their authors and this is problematic.

I do an effort to look for sources on the ground and I fortunately speak/read both Arabic and English and that makes things a lot more easier. I still prefer to keep my opinions for myself when things are complicated and when my sources are not adequate. Unfortunately, so many people don't choose to do this. That's why we are witnessing an analytic circus on Iraq these days because everyone thinks they're entitled to saying something even while they don't know enough to form an opinion about the matter.

So, I'm not offering a whole other analysis here, it's more like a guideline based on my observations and readings. These are things I think you need to be aware of and keep in mind while looking at the situation in Iraq right now. It might help you understand a little bit before jumping into conclusions you have already.

The historical context: The peaceful uprising of 2012 that turned into an armed rebellion:

A Friday rally in al Anbar Jan 2013

I started paying close attention to Iraq again in early 2012 after I found out randomly through some of my contacts in Iraq that a popular peaceful uprising started in February 2012 in most of the Sunni major parts of Iraq. The whole thing started in Al Anbar. This came as a response specifically to the targeting, imprisoning, and raping of women in Al Maliki's prisons and the general targeting of the Sunni Iraqis using terrorism laws to persecute the Sunni population. 

 These designs on several days of actions and event are from Herak English, one of the Iraqi English Facebook outlets I followed closely. 

The mobilization was widespread across more 13 major Sunni Iraqi regions, it was incredibly inspiring and was met with so much aggression but for some reason it didn't pick up any media attention. I coordinated with some revolutionary Iraqi Facebook pages and started an English page to translate and post updates from there on a weeklybasis.

We don't give up, we win or die. From an anti-Maliki rally in 2013

A series of attacks and massacres took place at some of the protesters camp sites, and Al Maliki's armed forces used excessive force against protesters. Al Hawja massacre is one example. The situation escalated and eventually several insurgent groups were formed and people picked up arms whether individually or through their clans and tribes. You can check this interview with an armed rebel in Ramadi on why this ended up happening.

  In July 2013, more than1,000 Iraqis were killed in several contexts whether in attacks by the regime forces or in explosions. This is the largest number of deaths the country has witnessed in years, yet it didn't pick up enough attention. Check out this figure.

Civilian Deaths in Iraq from 2008-2013

The conclusion here is: People need to consider the uprising in the Sunni major cities in 2012 and the context in which this uprising emerged and how things were under the US installed puppet regime of Al Maliki.

Contextualizing Syria and Iraq: Shared borders, history, and present:
Guess what? Iraq and Syria share geographical borders. You can look at a map and make sure this is a fact. The development of the Syrian revolution has definitely reflected on the Iraqi scene. Al Malik's regime is allied with Bashar Al Assad's, and Al Maliki's security forces have been involved in operations with Bashar's against the anti-Assad protesters and rebels since 2011. Naturally, several groups and individuals from Iraq were also allied with the anti-Assad Syrian rebels.
The formation of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham came through some of these shared efforts. A while before that the Islamic State of Iraq was operating in Iraq. This was the mother group from which (ISIS) was born.

The conclusion here is: Syria is relevant to Iraq. Iraq is relevant to understanding Syria. If you can't fully understand what's been taking place in Syria (And I don't blame you, it's complicated), then you shouldn't expect yourself to fully grasp what's been taking place in Iraq. But at least make sure you're connecting the dots.

The over-generalization and bogey-men blaming:
The recent developments in Iraq reaffirmed the fact so many people in the west think of themselves as experts in Islamic groups. Way too many people think they can have a valid opinion about this subject, mostly non-Arab non-Muslim white males who reside in the northern American continent. The western narrative on Iraq hasn't been any different from the general narrative on the Middle East. This are some common mistakes:

1- Reducing the situation into black and white binaries and overlooking the diversity and the wide spectrum of parties involved and emphasizing the sectarian aspect of the conflict. (Islamist and secular, Sunni and Shia, Muslim brotherhood and military, rebels and state security forces.. etc).
Most of the time this results in the common Arab man who might be affiliated with neither parties not given any credit. It also doesn't give any room for imagining a third gray area.

In case of Iraq it should be recognized that The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) is not the only sole rebel group that's involved in the current conflict in Iraq with Al Maliki's army and security forces.

Although their role in turning the situation can't be neglected, claiming that (ISIS) is the only group involved is as ridiculous as the Egyptian military's claim that everyone in the Egyptian #AntiCoup movement is a Muslim Brotherhood member or a Morsi supporter. The Iraqi people should be given credit for their participation in resisting this US funded puppet regime and people should do an effort in finding more keys to understanding this.

2- The Bogeymen, the terrorists, the bad (usually bearded/Jihadi) guys who get all the attention, who are usually portrayed in an exaggerated representation and are blamed for everything.

In Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham happened to be playing this role. I have my own reservations about the group based on the firsthand accounts I have heard and read from people in Syria and Iraq. I also have been following multiple (ISIS) supporting sources. In addition, like many Jihadi groups, (ISIS) does have a remarkable Arabic and English online media presence because they depend on this in recruiting and building a populace ground. The fan boys of (ISIS) are everywhere on the web, their HD youtube videos, statements, and articles get translated into several languages. While you can always read what the terrorist expert white dudes in Washington DC think about these people, I guess it could be beneficial to you to read their own productions to get more perspective.

I'm not going to get into details about what I think of it personally but I do think that people need to be doing more reading about it in multiple context. There's a need to be familiar with the older group (The Islamic State of Iraq), and the manner in which (ISIS) operates in Syria verses how it has been operating in Iraq and things like this.

3- Blaming the victim and undermining the role of the oppressor.

Just like with Syria and Egypt, the protesters, the rebels, the anti-government elements get more criticism than the forces they are fighting against.
The protesters in Egypt are violent, the rebels in Syria are foreigners, the Sunnis in Iraq are armed, the (ISIS) is torturing people, and thus as a result of this the whole body of the given movement is illegitimate and these people deserve to be punished. This is a very common trend in many of the analysis and in the news coverage about mobilizations in the Arab world.

In Iraq, while nobody said anything about what Al Maliki's regime has committed against his own people and against the Sunni population specifically for years, everyone is talking about the violations (ISIS) was involved in. Similar to the arguments about Rabaa's sit in being an armed sit in and what's been said about Syria that I don't want to get started about. The same thing appears in the argument “Both sides are guilty” with the Palestine/Israeli conflict.

I'm not saying we should remain quite about the mistakes of those involved in a struggle. This is important and necessary however, I'm against equating two sides when the power dynamics are clear.

The conclusion here is:

1- Undermining the real forces that are crushing their people and the international players while giving too much attention to the opposition leads to justifying the oppression on a larger scale.

2- Focusing on and amplifying the violations the (ISIS) is involved in while totally ignoring the atrocities committed by Al Maliki's sectarian regime that used terrorism laws to crackdown on civilians and fulled sectarianism to further its control is unjust.

3- Picking up on the mistakes of the rebels while totally ignoring the role of the American, Iranian, Syrian and other governments which have geopolitical and financial interests in Iraq have responded recently and in the last few years is unjust. 

I have been generally quiet about my opinions regarding what's taking place in the region even in my own country for a multitude of reasons but I felt the need to say something about Iraq especially because we all failed it in many way. As Muslims and Arabs and as anti-war advocates. All the people in the countries that supported the invasion of Iraq which started this all shouldn't act like it's over. Learn and educate yourself before talking. Speak a word of truth against injustice or stay quiet, and everything will be ok. We have so many struggles to deal with to be struggling with orientalist self proclaimed wannabe middle east experts. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

On looking for Love in all the wrong places in the Middle East

I'm finishing a book I started reading last February titled: "The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization" by Richard W. Bulliet. 

It is a very good read for anyone who's trying to understand the modern history and possibly the future of the US/Muslim world relations from an honest western/American/non-Muslim perspective.
The author challenged several classical western principals that are commonly used while dealing with the Middle East whether in the academic arena of Middle Eastern studies or in policy making.

He's refuting concepts such as "Clash of civilization", "What went wrong" and "Why do they hate us" and I was really glad to see this coming from someone in the west.

I found some useful arguments that reminded me of my personal struggle to explain myself and where I'm coming from as a Middle Easterner to the rest of the world. I will share some quotes from the book's Amazon page and then discuss my own reflections from the chapter I especially liked: "Looking for Love in all the wrong places in the Middle East".

1- On "what went wrong":

"The idea that people in the Middle East once embraced the goal of becoming like Europe and hoped that by adopting European ideas and institutions they would someday experience all of the liberal values we recognize in the Europe of today is nonsense. It assumes a historical outcome for Europe itself that no one even in Europe could have predicted."

2- On "why do they hate us":

"Those who advanced the Japanese occupation as a model for postwar Iraq seem to have baseball, Hello Kitty, and Elvis impersonators in the back of their minds rather than headscarves and turbaned mullahs. 
Like latter day missionaries, we want the Muslims to love us, not just for what we can offer in the way of a technological society but for who we are -for our values. But we refuse to countenance the thought of loving them for their values."

3- On "Middle East studies":

"The founders of Middle East studies ignored recommendations that they focus on contemporary Islam and focused instead on Middle Easterners trying to act like westerners. There weren't a lot of these, just as there hadn't been a lot of converts, but the conviction was strong that those few would be pioneers in bringing western modernity to the region. The people we supported as agents of modernity became tyrants."


While observing the Middle Eastern peoples and cultures, "Looking for love in all the wrong places" is another orientalist pattern that appears in the attitudes of the American observers to this complicated region.

What does it mean?

It means that instead of trying to learn about the region and love/hate it the way it is, these observers look for Middle Easterners they can love, and a Middle East they can relate to while overlooking everything else, intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. 

The author argued that the Middle East they're willing to love is ready for an American version of modernization, and ready to absorb American values with little resistance.

The Middle Easterners they're willing to love are English speaking professionals who've received a reasonable amount of western education. The exotic folkloric traditional folks are also lovable but they're not intellectually competent enough to work with them.
This pattern was describing the majority of contemporary American policy makers, diplomats, and researchers on the Middle East.
I found that this phenomena appears also in the attitudes of people who're interested in the Middle East or watching it outside of academia and policy circles.

Case 1:

"I'm a liberal educated non-religious woman from the Middle East ready to absorb western/American values.
I'm not bearded or dressed up all in black, does that make me more lovable than fellow Middle Easterners who fit into your preconceived ideas and stereotypes?" 

Case 2:

"I'm not too assimilated with the western culture but I'm educated according to your perception, I do speak English and I can totally fit in. I'm also not dressed up all in black or have a beard but is my headscarf an issue? Does it make me more palatable than a Niqabi? Or less acceptable than a seemingly liberal Middle Easterner? 

I encounter this all the time while dealing with people who're interested in "us". And for those of us who're standing on the fence between the two worlds because they happened to have some "access" it is a very problematic issue. 

For those of you who're interested in us, you probably have one perception of the Middle East in your mind based on your personal experience. For me it is the Middle East I live in and read about in my own literature and version of history, the Middle East I read about in your western orientalist literature and media, and most importantly it is the Middle Easterner I'm being. 

Which one do you have in mind when you're talking to me? 

Am I supposed to censor myself about myself in order to be sensitive with your ignorance or the fact you're not doing your part in learning about us just like we're learning about you?

It's always a hard job to figure out which version people have in their mind while talking to me. It is so difficult because we are the case study, the educators and the refuters of the misconceptions all at the same time. 

In order to make it easy on both of us you need realize that you are not going to learn if you are just looking for "Middle East and Middle Easterners I can love".

Instead, I suggest you put your personal feelings and judgments aside and then begin to learn/relearn/unlearn about other people/societies/cultures the way they are. 

Of course you will find that there are many not so nice things -from your perspective- about this part of the world and about these people. However, it is not necessarily the same stuff you see on media or hear in that Near East /Middle East / Islamic studies class you attend.

As Bulliet clearly discussed it you must consider the fact the same exact thing applies to your nationality, cultural background, and heritage when people from elsewhere look at it.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Hamza e i significati del Corano

Riflessioni, dubbi, paura e fede: questa è la storia di Hamza Roberto Piccardo, un musulmano italiano alla ricerca dei significati della religione.
Studiando le traduzioni del Corano redatte da studiosi cristiani e altri orientalisti, Hamza ha scoperto inesattezze con gli originali significati del testo ; per questo egli ha ritenuto necessario cimentarsi in un delicato lavoro di studio e traduzione che, nel rispetto dei significati originali del Corano, fosse accessibile ai lettori di lingua italiana.

Hamza Roberto Piccardo 

Hamza Roberto Piccardo è nato a Imperia, entra nell’Islàm nel 1975, nel corso di un lungo viaggio in Africa occidentale.

Nel 1988 realizza l'edizione italiana de "Al Minhaj al Muslim (La via del musulmano) " dello shaykh Abu Bakr al Djazayri, la prima opera di giurisprudenza cultuale ad uso dei musulmani italofoni.
Nel 1990 è tra i fondatori dell'Unione delle Comunità ed Organizzazioni islamiche in Italia. (UCOII) e viene eletto membro della direzione nazionale.
Elabora la Bozza d'intesa, il documento sulla quale si dovrebbero stabilire i rapporti tra la comunità islamica e lo Stato .

Nel 1992 viene rieletto nella direzione nazionaleU COII , in quell'anno da vita alla Comunità dei Musulmani del Ponente Ligure, promuovendo l'apertura della Moschea di Imperia; seguiranno nel 1994 quella di Albenga (SV), quella di Sanremo (IM) nel 1996, Savona e Cengio (SV) nel 1998.
Nel 1993 fonda la casa editrice "Al Hikma" e pubblica e dirige il mensile "Il Musulmano". Si tratta di una rivista multilingue, fondamentalmente italiano-arabo ma con apporti in bosniaco, turco, somalo. "Il musulmano" uscirà fino a tutto il 1994 quando è costretto a sospendere le pubblicazioni per ragioni economiche.

Al termine del 1994, dopo cinque anni di lavoro pubblica la prima edizione del "Saggio di Traduzione Interpretativa del Santo Corano inimitabile". 
Si tratta della prima traduzione integrale e commentata ( vi sono oltre 2500 note e un ricco apparato di appendici, indici tematici e dei nomi) pensata e realizzata dai musulmani in Italia per gli italiani e gli italofoni.
Nel 1996 assume la carica di segretario nazionale che mantiene fino all’aprile 2005
Nell'estate `96 esce la prima edizione economica della traduzione del Corano In 8 mesi tutta la tiratura di 25000 copie è esaurita. A tutt’oggi sono state pubblicate 9 edizioni per un totale di oltre 160.000 copie distribuite e vendute.Realizza e tutt’ora dirige un portale islamico in lingua italiana:, attualmente il più visitato dei siti islamici in italiano.

Prosegue l’attività editoriale e da alle stampe “Anéla il petto”, un libro di poesie sui 99 bellissimi Nomi di Dio che saranno poi illustrate dalla pittrice Nadia Valentini con altrettanti quadri.
Nel 2003 sito
Nel 2005 è portavoce del European Muslim Network, presieduto da Tariq Ramadan.
Nel maggio dello stesso anno pubblica “Il Puzzle del Derviscio”, il suo primo romanzo.
Nel 2006 “Luci prima della Luce” una raccolta di 140 invocazioni.
Nel aprile 2007, “Ode alla Rossa” una raccolta di poesie ispirate dal Marocco e in particolare aiMarrakech.
Nel 2008 Miracolo a Baghad, il secondo romanzo politico/poetico.
Nel nel mese di Dhul Hijja 1430 H / novembre 2009 completa, con i sapienti del Complesso di Re Fahd per la stampa del Generoso Corano, i lavori preparatori per l'edizione arabo/italiano del Libro di Allah.
Nell'Aprile 2010 viene eletto un'altra volta nella direzione UCOII

Il Facebook page di fratello Hamza:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Srebrenica: A story of a Muslim Genocide

The Srebrenica Massacre

11 July 1995

I was five when the Srebrenica genocide happened but I remember. Yes, don't laugh please. Kids here in this part of the world remember things like this. 
My 14 years old cousin Omar remembers his 2 years old memories of the Iraq war. 
I was too young so, I have such vague memories of it, I was a first grade kid in primary school and somehow I still remember a few things.

I still recall the Arabic songs/Nasheed my aunts used to play from an album called "The wounds of Sarajevo".
 A collection of Arabic poems in the form of songs talking about the massacres, about places called Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Bosnia and all these hard to pronounce Slavic names.

Later I found these poems and songs online after years of research and I still love to listen to them often.

I remember she had a bumper-sticker about Bosnia on her radio/cassette device where we used to play these songs

I remember a lot of the Modern Standard Arabic vocabulary I picked up and the concepts I learned about through this . I remember asking her as we were watching black and white TV reports and I was having such a hard time understanding why they are killing kids somewhere in the world called Bosnia.

It's so strange how I could clearly remember these details but it also shows what kind of childhood some of us have experienced in Egypt even though we were too far away from these conflicts since the post Camp David era.
 Still none of my peers in school and all the way up to college would relate to these stories or know of them.

"European Muslims", "Non-Arabic speaking people who believe in the same God and book I believe in", Yugoslavia", "Serb and Bosnian" and of course the "Hate/ discrimination crimes" all were things you don't get exposed to if you're a regular Egyptian who grew up in culturally Muslim households in a secular educational system.

As I grew up and while I was exploring my identity I felt a strong connection with these people though, more than just sympathy. I was so curious and wanted to know more about this part of the world and why these white Europeans who don't look like us are Muslim and why they were massacred like that.

When I was introduced to the internet finally in 2003 I did an intensive research on the issue in Arabic ( There wasn't much out there at all back then) and eventually had to do more in English. This was one of the topics that made me want to start blogging when I was 17 or so.
 I didn't think anybody else around me knew or cared and that was hard to understand. 

Later in 2008 I wrote 2 articles on the Bosnian Genocide and until today I still get visits from people searching it in Arabic.


Until today I still listen to all the beautiful poetry they wrote about the war/genocide that I memorized growing up in Arabic. 

The wounds of Sarajevo, an album cover 

I can't miss July the 11th without thinking about it and recalling all the Aljazeera documentaries and all the articles and pictures I have in the back of my mind about this horrific event.

I still feel the words on alienation, estrangement, and that Bosnian guy singing about growing up in a non-Muslim country missing the warmth of home, the mosques, the call to prayer, the family and friends, and everything he left behind after becoming a refugee knowing that he can't be back. Ever.

Before the uprising Egypt was pushing me further away more and more and at that time I started to be an advocate of such unpopular/ unknown causes that nobody here cares to learn about.

I started an online educational/awareness campaign on the online forums I used to participate in about this part of the world, the Balkan and central Asia, its history and present, the early Islamophobia in the 1990s.

Nobody I know really cared at that time, but I was happy I got some people excited about the idea online.

I couldn't understand why nobody else was wondering as I did for so long.

How come 8,000 people were killed in 4 days for being males and Muslims and how come women and girls got raped for being Muslims and females?

How come people were kept in concentration camps starving to death and getting tortured like this?

Why didn't anybody talk about it as much as they talked about other events while it was the most outrageous mass killing in Europe after WW2?

Why do you need to be a Muslim to speak about it and why don't fellow Muslims know about it at first place?

90% of all the mosques, schools and old architecture were destroyed , more than 700 hundred mosques and more than 850 public library.

Only (yesterday) around 500 newly discovered bodies where buried.


"How can these army generals do it and get away with it?" that was one naive question I had as a first year college student until I saw other army generals doing similar things in my own country.

Looking at the destroyed buildings and the coffins piling up in Syria reminded me so much of these pictures showing green coffins and veiled women crying over them. For some reason it wasn't like Palestine or Iraq's scenes at all, it was more like Bosnia.

Now Syrians have more means to talk about what's going on there. Will that change people's perception to mass killings?
Does it mean that no more massacres will continue to happen, that no more innocent people will continue to die in vain and life will go on like this.

Does it make a difference to educate ourselves about history mistakes and educate those around us in order to avoid it?

The Bosnian genocide and the way the world responded to it all taught me so many lessons about our world and the reality of things. The racial and religious dynamics in the whole thing have hundreds of lessons on how our world is operating. 

I don't know what could be done to stop the bloodshed around the corner from my house in Egypt to be thinking about solving these issues in other countries.

I just know that this specific event has certainly shaped the political and religious consciousness of so many young Muslims in the world as it did with me. More people should learn about this massacre in this context. 

The least I can do about it is talking and honoring these victims by letting more people learn about what happened to them.

For those of you who still don't know much about it, you can easily google: Srebrenica + Genocide + 1995 and you will find plenty of documentaries and articles. 

These are some of the tweets people posted today on twitter to commemorate Srebrenica Massacre, you still can follow the hashtag #Srebrenica to get updates on it:

Stay Human ‏@Stay_Human1
Imagine whats going through families who only just buried their beloveds today after 17 years ... bodies still being identified‪#Srebrenica

Zbigniew G ‏@Zbigniew_G
In many cases, body parts of one individual have been found in several different mass graves ‪#Srebrenica

Kaya Dee ‏@Kaya_Dee
To this day i remember Bosnians telling me about the pain they suffered at the hands of their neighbours ‪#Srebrenica ‪#Islamophobia@MPACUK

Taji Mustafa ‏@tajimustafa
#Srebrenica massacre: I remember how UN arms embargo
left Bosnian Muslims largely unarmed while Serbia inherited Yugoslav Army's arsenal

Radeyah Why? ‏@TryUmphNow
After the ‪#Holocaust we dealt with ‪#antisemitism After the ‪#civilrightsmovement we death with ‪#racism But we never deal with‪#Islamophobia

#Srebrenica, where nearly 9000 Muslims were murdered. They are still finding more bodies 17 years on! We will never forget!

Rape was as much a weapon as bullets & bombs. Women raped in front of their parents, children. Fathers forced to rape daughters‪ #Srebrenica

An estimated 200,000 Muslims murdered, 12,000 children & 50,000 women raped at the end of the genocide. How can we not forget?#Srebrenica